Force vs. Flow
Think of Cognitively Guided Instruction in Math (CGI) like a party. Ideally, you would prepare your materials (food, drinks, plates, and cups), invite a diverse group of guests, create a positive environment, and create moments that encourage your guests to mix and mingle, e.g., music, games, maybe a piñata (I love a piñata at an adult party).
Your role at the party would be to greet guests, direct them toward the food, drinks, and bathroom, and introduce new people to one another. Occasionally, you might pause the festivities to tell the guests dinner is served or the piñata is ready to be hit, but your number one job is to mix and mingle.
The above creates a festive atmosphere where people can make new friends, fall in love, build connections, and enjoy life. Your most important job is mixing, mingling, and keeping the party flowing.
This is also the best recipe for a successful CGI math lesson.
What often happens in classrooms where CGI is being implemented is that the party proceedings are forced rather than flowing. The hosts may not have prepared all the required materials, e.g., math tools and manipulatives appropriate for the grade level or lesson (number charts, coins, base ten blocks). So, the guests (students) need help to complete or get started on the task. Imagine a tray of food with no serving spoon. Your guests must track you down, ask for the spoon, and stop you from mingling because they don’t have the tools they need to help themselves.
Like a great CGI teacher, a good host creates the environment, provides the appropriate materials, and invites students to different foods or activities but never forces them to do something that makes them uncomfortable.
What do your mathematicians look and act like when doing math?
Are they asking their host for everything along the way, or can they move through the problems independently and easily?
Is the set party/math lesson set up so guests can be independent, or do they need you to survive?
Can the guests talk to whomever they want or only talk and listen to you?
Is the party flowing?